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Obviously, I can't just buy it, push the button and expect a helicopter to show up.

Are there monthly or registration fees? Do I need to get a permit or register with someone? How does it all work? Does it get service everywhere (even internationally)? I'm not even sure what I don't know at this point.

Basically, if you were telling a friend how to purchase a PLB, what would you tell them?

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Which country? I don't think they're allowed inland in the UK –  Chris Jan 31 '12 at 0:09
    
Good point, the United States. –  Hartley Brody Jan 31 '12 at 0:23
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Ofcom have recently added an exemption which does now allow PLBs to be used in the UK. See stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/… –  Phil Jan 31 '12 at 18:49
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See also Are PLBs banned or otherwise useless anywhere?. –  gerrit Apr 21 '13 at 18:17
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up vote 4 down vote accepted

The Wikipedia article has a lot of detail: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distress_radiobeacon.

There's no fee. In the USA, the response comes from government agencies such as the Coast Guard.

It does need to be registered, but registration is free and easy online.

If you use it when there's not an emergency, you could be fined.

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